A Video: “Wealth Inequality in America”

Here’s a video that’s been circulating about wealth inequality in America that I want to share with you. It’s presented in generalities, but I would have really liked to have seen the breakdown across social identities like race & ethnicity, sex and gender identity and expression, ability status, sexual orientation,  and others.

I’m sure those results would have been even more telling. If you know of any resources with such a breakdown that I could share with others, let me know.

Although the narrator takes a couple of jabs at socialism during the presentation, I think it’s pretty clear from these findings that the present capitalistic system isn’t working out very well either…or is it?

I suppose the answer to that question would depend on who you’re talking to.

Grace & Peace,

From Aspiring Humanitarian, Relando Thompkins, MSW



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Written by

I'm a Social Justice Educator and Aspiring Humanitarian who is interested in conflict resolution, improving intergroup relations, and building more equitable and inclusive communities. "Notes from an Aspiring Humanitarian" is my blog, where I write about issues of diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice. By exploring social identities through written word, film & video, and other forms of media, I hope to continue to expand and enrich conversations about social issues that face our society, and to find ways to take social action while encouraging others to do so as well in their own ways.

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8 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    This visual helped to really see how wealth is distributed in this country. I have known this for sometime, but it still makes me very angry (yet hopeless) to know this is reality. It is further unfortunate that politicians are fighting and cannot compromise on federal budgets and we (the 99%) are suffering the effects. What to do… what to do?

    • Thank you for sharing your comment and for telling your truth. I’m sure you’re not alone in feeling helpless at times in the face of such a large issue. I think as this trend continues, our times are calling for an entirely different way of thinking and doing things as it relates to wealth inequity in America, and around the world.

  2. geof says:

    The hardest part of the video is it comes across as somewhat condescending towards any who hold beliefs on the Right side of the political spectrum. I actually appreciated this TED presentation by Richard Wilkenson because it went into what is lost, even if one should be lucky enough to be “rich.” Yes, as the video above shows “rich” is relative for all but a very very few.

    Richard Wilkenson cost of inequality:

    • Thank you for sharing this video geof! It’s a great demonstration of how perpetuating wealth inequality creates losses for the wealthy as well as the poor.

      Can you go into a bit more detail about your definition of the right side of the political spectrum. I have an assumption about what you might mean, but can you clarify that a bit more? I think it would be helpful for others who might come across this thread.

      I really appreciate you highlighting what is lost, as a result of wealth inequality, even for those who are rich. I plan on re-sharing this video in a future note very soon in my Reader’s Share Category.

  3. geof says:

    Speaking for the Right is not my natural inclination, but I can give what I see as weaknesses in the argument.

    The video presents a fairly slanted perspective. To say the wealth of the middle class hasn’t grown as fast as the top is easily shown, and the video does this. However, what it doesn’t show is whether the middle class is better off now than they were. Does the middle class have more disposable time and money than they had in the 80’s? Do we own more TV’s and go on more vacations? I don’t know the answer other than to point out it is an issue not presented in the original viral video.

    The original presentation puts all the wealth in a pie and assumes the pie doesn’t grow over time. Thus all the extra money the rich have now compared to what they had must have come from those poorer. For example at the 5 min mark, he compares how the rich used to only account for 9% of income and now take 24% of all income. Did the added income come at the expense of the poor or did the rich continue to make more and more while the middle stagnated in wealth growth? Has the total income of the U.S. stayed constant?

    I also think the presentation was slightly cheapened by the “clearly socialism is bad” theme.

    Clearly the rich have benefited more from industrial progress. I don’t think this is new, merely on steroids in the age of global competition and idea sharing.

    • I really appreciate you sharing your thoughts about the “missing pieces”, and invite anyone who may have other answers to those questions to share a comment. I caught the anti-socialist theme in the first video as well, but as I’ve written in this note, I think something’s clearly not working with the current system either.

      Ah, so for you, the first video seemed to generate more questions than answers. I think both of these videos can work well when watched together, as one highlights wealth inequality in the U.S. while the other looks at trends across the world, demonstrating how we all lose out as human beings as long as the system of economic inequality remains unchecked.

      • geof says:

        I have to admit, I am more one who thinks the levels of inequality is a problem. Outside of the “socialism is evil” bit, I am probably the ideal audience for the first video you posted. I simply prefer the second video when it comes to influencing those with money to do something with it. I’m from the “my money is only as good as it is useful” school of thought. I don’t want to find myself waking up some day in the future thinking, “I could have…”

        I constantly ask myself why am I lucky? Surely, there must be some purpose beyond sitting on a couch watching TV. However, the current philosophy in this country of money is still dominated by descendant theories originating from the free market ideas of Adam Smith’s invisible hand where a person will do what they perceive to be in their best interest. Having been schooled in economics, the second video is one of my favorites as it preaches the social good is in the best interest of everyone.

        I wonder if the new pope will be one for equality of means. Taking the name Francis could be very symbolic, and the bishop was already known to be a man of the people forswearing his chauffeured car to take the buses. It could be the Church re-enters the push and pull between rich and poor throughout the world.

        • I love the “my money is only as good as it is useful” point of view, and I too hope that these videos help to influence economically privileged folks to take some kind of social action with their resources that can move the needle in the opposite direction. There’s a quote I love that says “when the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace”. I think it rings true for Wealth inequality, as well as other forms of inequity as well. Sometimes doing one thing that may seem to be in our individual best interests can end in harming everyone as a whole. I think the second video really did a good job of demonstrating that.

          I’m not too sure what the new pope will stand for. Like you, searching for what’s been left out in the discussion on wealth inequality, I think there is something missing from this topic as well. I’d hope this new person would begin to address the issue of pedophilia within the church and it’s cover-ups in an intentional way, and as a developing ally for those in the LGBTQ community, from what I understand it seems like this pope’s new election spells more of the same for that population.

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